NHL On Tap: Flyers look to sweep back-to-back set against Sabres

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Welcome to the NHL On Tap. Three NHL.com writers will share what they are most looking forward to on the schedule each day. Today, their choices from the six games Sunday.

Flyers near full strength at right time

The Philadelphia Flyers are close to full strength entering the toughest stretch of their season. They’ll play at the Buffalo Sabres for the second straight day (3 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN1, SN, MSG-B, NBCSP, NHL.TV), the second of six games in nine days, and 19 in 33 days through the end of March. They’ve looked energized the past two games with a shoot-first mentality and a stronger forecheck that has been missing for long stretches this season. With captain Claude Giroux returning from NHL COVID-19 protocol to spark a 4-3 win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday and forwards Oskar Lindblom, Jakub Voracek and Scott Laughton back for a 3-0 win against the Sabres on Saturday, the Flyers put together their best consecutive games of the season. Forward Travis Konecny is the only Flyers player still in protocol. They seem to have rediscovered the best parts of their game at precisely the right time. It will be worth watching to see if they can sustain it. — Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

Music City rematch

The Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Nashville Predators for the second of a back-to-back set (3 p.m. ET; NHLN, FS-TN, FS-O, NHL.TV) and the teams will play for the fourth time in 11 days. Familiarity may build contempt, and that has surfaced in this series, but it also results in compelling hockey. The Blue Jackets and Predators are desperate for points since each sit outside the top four spots in the Discover Central Division. The Predators have won each of the past two games, including a 2-1 victory Saturday, after the Blue Jackets opened with a 3-0 shutout at home Feb. 18. Though neither team is where it wants to be with its game, there are stars galore to watch. Predators defenseman Roman Josi, the reigning Norris Trophy winner voted as the top defenseman in the NHL last season, is finding his game with three assists and 12 shots in his past three games. Forward Filip Forsberg has scored four points (one goal, three assists) in his past four games and 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 20 games this season. For Columbus, forward Patrik Laine has scored 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 12 games since his trade from the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 23. Forward Cam Atkinson is having a bounce-back season with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 22 games. Sunday should be a fitting final act between these teams, at least until they play again May 3. – Shawn P. Roarke, senior director of editorial

Zacha on a roll

When New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha scored at 6:09 of the second period in a 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday, it extended his NHL career-high point streak to nine games (11 points; four goals, seven assists). Zacha can make it 10 when the Devils host the Capitals again (3 p.m. ET; MSG, NBCSWA, NHL.TV). The longest point streak in Devils history for a player age 23 or younger is held by Patrik Elias, who had a point in 15 straight games from Dec. 27, 1999 to Jan. 28, 2000 (24 points; 15 goals, 9 assists). Zacha, at 23 years and 300 days, is the 11th-youngest player in Devils history to have a nine-game point streak, and 46th for the Devils overall. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

Sunday schedule

Boston Bruins at New York Rangers, 12 p.m. ET (NBC, SN1)

Chris Kreider has scored five goals and six points in his past three games for the Rangers, who have won three of their past four (3-1-0), including 6-2 against the Bruins on Friday.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Nashville Predators, 3 p.m. ET (NHLN, FS-TN, FS-O, NHL.TV)

The Blue Jackets and Predators have played five games against each other this season and have combined for one power-play goal. Nashville is 1-for-15 on the man-advantage (forward Calle Jarnkrok scored the goal); Columbus is 0-for-8.

Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN+, SN1, SN, MSG-B, NBCSP, NHL.TV)

Sean Couturier has scored nine points (four goals, five assists) in a five-game point streak for the Flyers.

Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils, 3 p.m. ET (MSG, NBCSWA, NHL.TV)

The Capitals have won two in a row and are 5-1-1 in their past seven games. They are 2-0-0 against the Devils, who have lost four of their past five (1-4-0).

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+, TVAS, MSG+, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

The Penguins try to become the first team in NHL history to defeat the same opponent at least five times in the same month during the regular season. They are 4-1-0 against the Islanders in February after a 4-3 overtime win Saturday.

Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SNP, SNW, NHL.TV)

The Red Wings look for their season-high third straight win after a 5-3 victory against the Blackhawks on Saturday. Detroit has scored five goals in each of its past two games, the first time it’s scored at least that many in consecutive games since Dec. 4-6, 2018 (excluding shootout-deciding goals).

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